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Mon, Feb

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There was little encouragement for the sprinkling of die-hard Trinidad and Tobago football supporters who showed up at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on day one of the Football Federation's (T&TFF) Pre-Championship invitational tournament yesterday.
Keen to lend their support to the country's Fifa World Under-17 Championship squad, they were left in a highly sceptical mood by the collective performance of Chief Onigbinde's charges.

Edward Johnson struck no fewer than four times as the United States hammered T&T 6-1. And in the opening game of the double-header, England whipped Mexico 4-1, Michael Chopra scoring twice for the victors.

Johnson's stoppage time tap-in capped off a dominant display by the Americans. The tall striker's finishing could not be described as brilliant. Had it been, his tally would have been even more impressive.

Johnson and his teammates were given time and space to move forward systematically. The T&T build-ups, on the other hand, lacked purpose and fluidity. And in the defensive third of the field, the work was sloppy, clearances often finding the feet of American midfielders.

What seemed to be the wrong choice of footwear also plagued the home team's efforts on the sodden Stadium surface.

Justin Mapp opened the scoring in the 17th minute, finishing off a fluent movement that was facilitated by a wide opening on the right side of the T&T defence. But less than one minute later, Kenwyne Jones put the locals back on level terms. The defensive midfielder's low drive from the top of the 18-metre box beat US custodian and skipper Zachary Riffett.

Jones's animated celebration culminated with a flip. Unfortunately, T&T then flopped, failing to create any serious concerns for Riffett for the remainder of the match.

Fifteen minutes after Jones struck, Johnson knocked home a right-side cross from Craig Capano to put his team back in front. And when, on the stroke of half-time, Johnson tried to squeeze in another cross, the attempt should have been cleared off the line. But Alf Skeete only succeeded in helping the ball into the back of the net, giving the visitors an extension to a lead they thoroughly deserved.

Four minutes into the second half, 3-1 nearly became 4-1. But an upright got in the way of a Joshua Villalobos shot. And then in the 57th, Capano's 35-metre rocket was brilliantly pushed around the post by T&T keeper Marvin Phillip.

However, in the 86th minute, substitute Heath Pearce rifled home from 25 metres out.  This time Phillip was beaten. 4-1. Two minutes later, Johnson added his third, and before referee Jagdeesh Bhimul's final whistle, he did it again.

T&T would have to improve tremendously in today's 5p.m. game against England, at the João Havelange Centre of Excellence. At seven, the Americans face Mexico in the battle for Concacaf bragging rights.